Monday, February 04, 2013

Going Minty: LinuxMint 14 MATE

I am not an Ubuntu fan. I stand firmly on the RPM side of the fence. Not for any one particular reason. If I could pinpoint it, it could probably be the pain I felt installing Debian for the first time. And the glacial pace of it's development. This from someone who began installing Linux from tgz files. So I shied away from anything deb based.
I also particularly loathe the fact that Ubuntu focused their efforts on the desktop (they were roundly criticized for not contributing to the kernel at one point) and then glorifying themselves as the Linux distro for everyone. They committed what many geeks consider a cardinal sin, put their name above that of Linux itself. In fact, while other distributions were calling themselves Linux-this or Something-Linux, Ubuntu decided that their brand was to be put forth in place of Linux. And that effort has worked. Ask most users who have heard of Linux and most likely they have heard of Ubuntu. In fact, I used to find people who know about Ubuntu and not heard of Linux. Worse off, they knew nothing about other Linuxes other than Ubuntu. "What's RedHat?". And when they started to refer to the kernel as the Ubuntu kernel, I was convinced my position to not support them was right.
But all that changed because of Gnome3. There is no secret how I hate Gnome3 and how it represents the Gnome developers attitude to their community of users. I have a problem because I have been using Mageia, having followed the community there after the split with Mandriva. And they have decided to focus on the KDE desktop while offering Gnome3 as an option. A lot of people think that in the past, Mandriva is a KDE distro but in reality support has been equal for Gnome. In fact, the pervasiveness of the Mandriva/Mageia Control Center makes the decision style choice more than a technology one. I am writing this on XFce on Mageia, which I consider a viable alternative, although at times it feels like a downgrade.

But work issues is forcing my hand and now I have to make a choice of staying with Mageia or finding something else. I tried ZorinOS and found the experience ok for general purpose use. But their focus is more on the everyday user and the way the AWN taskbar crashes is a bit too unsettling since I have to show off the stability of Linux. Also things have at times gone awry in settings with no apparent way of going back. If I wanted instability, I'd use Windows.
I have heard a lot of good things about Linux Mint on the TuxRadar podcasts and on LinuxFormat Magazine (basically from the same people). Although it is based on Ubuntu, it has decided to continue development on Gnome2 and forked it as MATE. It also has improved on Gnome3's setup via the Cinnamon project. I realized that my work machine could be slower with Gnome3/Cinnamon, so I opted for the Linux Mint 14 MATE edition. The last thing I wanted people to see was that moving to linux was a downgrade from Windows 7.
Installation was easy and simple. Fairly, event-less. Which is the way distro installations should be. I found a nice site with simple answers to common post-installation issues with mint at It covers earlier versions of Linux Mint but some answers are still applicable. Everything but the network card works. Since I have my wireless, this cam wait till later. The only think I needed to feel home was to enabled the BSOD screen saver. Wasn't clear at first why it wouldn't appear but I found the solution at this post on the Linux Mint forums. It involved editing a lot of files in the same directory. Fortunately, if you read one of the replies, user Janek (JaneAcc) provides a command line using xargs and sed to automate the process. Do it.

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